Local fans mourn loss of music icon

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By Josh Moore

Debbie Tapp of Shelbyville said the first time she saw Michael Jackson was on The Ed Sullivan Show when she was 7 years old.

Now Tapp and other Shelby County residents are dealing with the death of the “King of Pop” on Thursday.

“His music blessed my spirit a lot when he got down to the sensitive side,” Tapp said. “He's 'gone too soon.' ”

Jackson, 50, died Thursday at his home in the Los Angeles area after going into cardiac arrest. Millions have mourned his passing, and the impact was felt everywhere.

Fans rushed the Shelbyville Walmart Thursday afternoon after the news spread, said Gwen Jones, home entertainment department manager. Walmart sold all 16 copies of Jackson's CDs in stock by early Friday.

“He's pretty popular,” she said. “His CDs have never stopped selling.”

Jackson had 13 top No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts in a career that spanned most of his lifetime.  His “Thriller” CD sold 110 million copies.

Jackson influenced an entire generation, said Les Cook, morning announcer and program director for WAKY-FM (103.5), an oldies channel.

Cook described Jackson as “a brilliant entertainer, song writer and performer.”

“It's a tragic loss to the music industry,” he said. “He did it all.”

WAKY did a 4-minute tribute to Jackson Friday morning, and Cook said the station received some phone calls from listeners upset about his death.

Kaye Barnsfather of Simpsonville said she was a big fan of Jackson's.

She was shocked when she found out on Thursday, she said. She compared it to when Elvis Presley died in 1977.

Jackson's life did have its controversies. His appearance changed dramatically from the adolescent who debuted with his brothers in the Jackson Five in the early 1970s, and in 2003 he was indicted on child molestation charges in 2003. He was acquitted in 2005.

Theresa Evans of Simpsonville said she still thinks he's guilty.

“I liked him before all of that came out,” she said.

Evans said she thought about the children at the center of the trial with all the news Jackson's death is getting.

But Tapp said everyone deserves forgiveness, and she's still a fan.

Jones said she thinks fans will want to collect Jackson's CDs now that he's dead.

She said she expects a new shipment with all of his CDs soon.